Strangely, it’s the best new show of the year. And I didn’t expect that.
First, it gets diversity points - and so far mostly unheralded - for casting Indian actress Priyanka Chopra as the main character, Alex Parrish. Alex is terrific to watch. She’s smart and capable, throws a punch and thinks her way around a problem with the same ability, is unabashedly sexual and wholly feminine while beating the tar out of her male colleagues. And still not Superwoman, as she’s got some issues left over from unpleasant history.
So do all of them, as Quantico builds each present-day episode detailing a terrorist attack on New York City while flashing back to the training days of Alex and her cohorts, along with some truly screwed-up personal histories.
Quantico has a diverse and interesting cast without falling into tokenism. Commanding officer Miranda Shaw is a black woman dedicated to raising this miscreant crew, and willing to put her own ass on the line for them. Arab-American twins Niman and Raina are practicing being one person (for … reasons) going through the training without anyone suspecting there’s more than one of them. Jewish Simon Asher inexplicably spent part of his life in Gaza. Latina Natalie Vazquez serves as a good counterpart to Alex, good ole Southern belle Shelby Wyatt is Alex’s crack-shot roommate and everyone has a backstory with their own motivations. (Also, Caleb sucks and I want Alex to shoot him.)
The structure of “hero framed for a crime s/he didn’t commit and is the target of a vast conspiracy” is older than Hitchcock and tiredly replayed in action-adventure movies, one after another. And yet Quantico manages to make it fresh, in part because Chopra is just that good.
While the flashbacks have become a bit too “And Then There Were None” for my taste, it never fails to draw me in. A full season has been ordered, so with luck, we’ll watch the whole thing play out. My barometer for "good show" is when there's days' worth of episodes on my Apple TV, and this is the show I leap to watch first. For this fall's freshmen set, that's Quantico.